Waterfowl Mortality in Eagle River Flats, Alaska: The Role of the Munitions Residues
COLD REGIONS RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING LAB HANOVER NH
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The death of hundreds of migrating dabbling ducks and 10-50 swans has been documented annually for the last ten years in Eagle River Flats ERF, an estuarine salt marsh on Ft. Richardson, Alaska. This marsh has been used for the past 40 years as an artillery impact range by the U.S. Army. During May and August 1990, CRREL collected 250 sediment and water samples and analyzed them for munitions residues. We found 2,4-DNT in a limited area of Eagle River Flats not used by waterfowl and white phosphorus in sediments from the bottom of shallow ponds where waterfowl feed. Tissues from waterfowl observed to die or found dead in the salt marsh were collected, and we found white phosphorus in the gizzards of all 11 carcasses collected in Eagle River Flats. Adult mallards dosed in the laboratory with white phosphorus showed identical behavioral symptoms to those of wild ducks observed to become sick and die in Eagle River Flats. All evidence indicates that white phosphorus, as a particulate in the sediments, is responsible for the death of waterfowl in Eagle River Flats. Since the bottom sediments of the shallow salt marsh ponds are anaerobic, the white phosphorus particles will persist in the sediments indefinitely and remain a threat to waterfowl. Alaska, Munition residues, Wetlands, Impact range, Waterfowl, White phosphorus.
- Water Pollution and Control